2017 Conference Plenary Speakers


Monday, September 11



Michele Siqueiros was the first in her family to graduate from college thanks to federal, state, and college financial aid.  She is passionate about the power of college to change lives, and the ability of policy making to expand or constrain college opportunity for others.

As the President for The Campaign for College Opportunity, Michele works to expand access and success in college for California students by raising public attention on the critical challenges facing higher education, mobilizing a broad coalition of supporters, and influencing policymakers. The Campaign’s mission to increase college going and completion rates is driven by a strong belief that California’s future economic success depends on our ability to produce the best educated workforce in the nation and that our diverse population of young adults deserve the same opportunity provided to previous generations – regardless of race or socio-economic status. 

Under her leadership in 2010, the Campaign led the effort for historic transfer reform that makes it easier for students to transfer from any California Community College to the California State University system.  The Campaign has assembled a statewide network of over 12,000 coalition supporters, involved over 50,000 young people and awarded over $670,000 in scholarship dollars; released prominent reports on higher education’s impact to the California economy, college access and success rates, and workforce needs; and sponsored and passed legislation to increase access to Pell Grants, promote college readiness, prioritize community college student success efforts and reform remedial education.   

Michele has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Studies with Honors in Chicano/a Studies from Pitzer College and a Master of Arts in Urban Planning from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). 



Wes Moore is a best-selling author, decorated Army combat veteran, youth advocate and CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation, one of the nation's largest foundations with a sole focus on alleviating poverty. He is also founder of BridgeEdU, an organization that provides support to students as they navigate to higher education. He is the author of two instant New York Times bestselling books, The Other Wes Moore and The Work. The Other Wes Moore is currently being made into a major motion picture from Executive Producer Oprah Winfrey. It tells the story of how educational opportunities, community support and other factors helped Wes transcend the fate of a man with the same name who lived just blocks away and took a tragically different path to prison. 

Wes is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Valley Forge Military Academy and The Johns Hopkins University. He was selected as a Rhodes Scholar, earning an MLitt in International Relations and Affairs at Oxford University. A combat-decorated Army Captain, Wes served for 10 years, including a tour of duty in Afghanistan as a paratrooper in the elite 82nd Airborne division. He later served as a White House Fellow and special assistant to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. 

Wes has also made his mark as a television producer and host, championing the challenges faced by veterans and underserved youth in critically acclaimed programs and miniseries. These include PBS’s Coming Back with Wes Moore, about returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, and All the Difference, chronicling two African-American teens from Chicago’s South Side pursuing their dream of graduating from college. He also hosted Beyond Belief on the Oprah Winfrey Network and American Graduate Day on PBS. Wes is the author of four books and a contributor to media ranging from The Huffington Post to NBC News. 

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